MFish Letter to the Hokianga Accord
By Stan Crothers
5 April 2006
Tena koe Sonny
Thank you for your letter of 4 April setting out your views on options for engagement between tangata whenua and the Ministry of Fisheries.
The matters you have raised will be carefully considered and I will respond to you in more detail within the next 10 working days.
I acknowledge your confirmation that the Hokianga Accord is the expression of the relationship between Maori and non-Maori non-commercial fishing interests in the mid North. It is not an iwi Forum between the Ministry and Iwi.
We understand that the purpose of the hui of the Hokianga Accord to be held on 6 and 7 April at Whitiora marae will be for iwi and other non-commercial fishing interests to discuss and share views on current fisheries management practices and how best to achieve common objectives on those matters.
We understand that the meeting will also consider a legal structure to formalise this relationship between iwi and other non-commercial fishing interests.
The Ministry understood, from the proposal you presented to us at the “short lineout” meeting in Auckland, that you proposed that the Ministry’s primary relationship to provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua in fisheries processes would be with iwi, through an Iwi Forum.
Iwi would have a relationship with other interested groups to discuss issues of common interest separately through your engagement in the Hokianga Accord.
It was always anticipated that iwi could invite others to listen and discuss issues at Iwi Forum, but that they would not be members of the Forum or signatories to any Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other agreement between the Ministry and iwi.
I understand that you now propose to conduct the business of any Iwi Forum through hui of the Hokianga Accord. This approach does have some implications for how the Ministry and iwi can work together, the matters that could be brought before a Forum at such a venue, the resourcing of the Forum and the construction of any MOU between the Forum and the Ministry.
We would like to discuss these matters with the iwi of the middle North in more detail. To advance this issue I propose to call a meeting of the Ministry and representatives from each iwi and the governance entities of Te Uri o Hau and Te Roroa (the hapu with which the Crown has direct Treaty settlement commitment’s) at the Ministry’s Whangarei office at a time that is mutually acceptable to all those parties.
The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss the need for a Forum in the Mid North, the objectives of such a Forum and the manner in which it would operate to effectively provide for the input and participation of tangata whenua into fisheries processes.
Your letter implies that a Forum would deal only with input and participation on sustainability measures from a non-commercial perspective. While that might be true if a model based on the Hokianga Accord is used, I think that approach is an inappropriate limitation of the role a Forum could play in the relationship between the Ministry and iwi, and the involvement of iwi not only in sustainability processes but in other aspects of the Ministry’s operations.
I do not see that a Forum should be limited to input and participation on non-commercial issues, although this is a key role for a Forum. A Forum can and should look at all aspects of Iwi interest in fisheries management, both commercial and non-commercial.
In addition iwi, through a Forum could be involved in a number of the business processes of the Ministry where they have an interest, (such as the extent of fisheries services and research planning), where there is no legal requirement for input and participation, but in which the Ministry would like to extend it interactions with iwi. I would be interested in discussing these matters further with Iwi representatives in the development of any Regional Iwi Forum.
In respect of the next meeting of the Hokianga Accord, you have invited the Ministry to be present and participate in a number of items on the agenda. I am agreeable to Ministry staff participating in the hui on the understanding that there has been some confusion to date as to how the hui would be used to enable the Ministry to discuss with iwi a number of issues on the agenda. In my view it would be unreasonable to now seek an alternative venue to discuss these issues with iwi.
In future it should be clear that the Ministry will need to establish with iwi a formal forum and determine with all iwi how meetings of the Forum will be conducted and the matters that will be dealt with by that iwi forum.
There are a number of items on the agenda that are exclusively the business of the iwi and non-commercial members of the Hokianga Accord. I am concerned that it would be inappropriate for Ministry staff to participate in those items or be in attendance during those items. In my view the only items the Ministry should be involved in are:
- the report back from previous meetings at which the Ministry attended;
- a presentation by the Ministry to Iwi representatives on the Shared Fisheries Project and the recording of their views on the key issues they consider should be included in the project (noting that the Ministry has already convened meetings with recreational groups on this issue and they have had the opportunity to put forward their views on the project);
- a briefing by the Ministry on Fisheries Plans.
Thank you for ordering the agenda to enable these matters to be addressed in the earlier part of day one of your hui. This approach will address my concerns over the need to separate the Ministry’s participation from the private business of the Hokianga Accord.
However, I note there is still provision for a presentation to the hui on proportional allocation and fisheries plans and subsequent panel discussion on these items and the Shared Fisheries Project. This stage of the Shared Fisheries Project is intended to seek the views of interested parties on the issues that need to be addressed in the project.
The Ministry is essentially there to listen to iwi views. There is as yet no formed policy on allocation. I do not consider that it would be useful for the Ministry to engage in speculation as to any particular approach that is not yet part of the matters up for discussion. Consequently the Ministry will not be involved these items.
As always, I am concerned to ensure that my staff are able to operate in a professional and safe manner. I would like confirmation prior to Thursday that the hui will be conducted in a professional manner and that the proceedings will not be videoed or recorded and that media will not be present. I look forward to your reply.
You have asked the Ministry to supply you with material on the Crown’s policies and guidelines on Crown Maori Relationship Instruments and policy papers on the funding of Regional Forums. Some of this material originates from other agencies. We are enquiring as to its release and will respond to you on both issues in accordance with the procedures set down for the release of official information.
Noho ora mai
GT (Stan) Crothers